What is power? How do you know when you’ve got it in today’s legal profession? How do top-ranking women lawyers view their jobs, lives, and young female colleagues? To find out, Corporate Counsel selected nine highly placed women lawyers and asked them to talk about life at the top. On May 14 the group met at The Coleman Center in midtown Manhattan. Their informative conversation was moderated by Susan Orenstein, senior reporter at CC’s sister publication, The American Lawyer. What follows is an edited version of a discussion that lasted two hours.

Moderator: Six of you here are in-house at corporations, and three are at law firms. How is the concept of power different in these two settings? Francesca Marciniak Maher, United Airlines Inc.: I probably wouldn’t consider my position one of power as much as one of influence internally. That may be unique to the role of the general counsel, but we derive our power from the respect that our clients have for our advice and our ability to influence other people.

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